Ex-TikTok Employee Alleges American Executives Were ‘Completely Complicit’ In Giving ‘U.S. Data To China’ thumbnail

Ex-TikTok Employee Alleges American Executives Were ‘Completely Complicit’ In Giving ‘U.S. Data To China’

By The Daily Caller

U.S.-based TikTok executives were totally “complicit” in efforts to hand over Americans’ data to China despite company assertions to the contrary, a former senior data scientist at the social media platform alleged, according to Fortune.

The House of Representatives passed legislation in March that would compel Chinese parent company ByteDance to sell TikTok for the social media app to continue operating in the United States because of the potential national security threats of its ownership. Evan Turner, a former senior data scientist who worked for the popular app in 2022 from April to September, alleged TikTok hid the participation of ByteDance in the app’s operations during his tenure, which overlapped with an initiative intended to solve the issue of Chinese data access, Fortune reported Monday.

Other ex-TikTok workers interviewed spoke of the progress TikTok has made to separate itself from its China-based parent and segregate U.S. user data from China.

— Alexandra Sternlicht (@iamsternlicht) April 15, 2024

“I literally worked on a project that gave U.S. data to China,” Turner told Fortune. “They were completely complicit in that. There were Americans that were working in upper management that were completely complicit in this.”

Turner first reported to a Beijing-based ByteDance executive but the company then announced Project Texas, a $1.5 billion initiative to establish an isolated unit to safeguard American data, leading him to receive a documented reassignment to a Seattle manager, he told Fortune. However, a human resources representative acknowledged Turner would persist in collaborating with the ByteDance executive.

The former senior data scientist participated in short meetings with the ByteDance executive on a weekly basis, where he would provide rudimentary updates on his progress with key assignments, Fortune reported.

Turner was allegedly required to send spreadsheets containing hundreds of thousands of American TikTok users’ data, including names, emails and locations to ByteDance staff every 14 days, he told Fortune. The project’s intention was to use the data to learn trends to make users more hooked on the app, and it occurred after Project Texas launched.

Fortune interviewed 11 ex-employees, many alleging TikTok’s operations were connected to ByteDance to an extent while they worked there despite the company’s claims it was prohibiting the Chinese parent company from having access. Some of the former employees spoke anonymously because of concerns of revenge against them, according to the outlet.

Managers within TikTok were directing employees to send similar data to ByteDance, bypassing authorized channels, according to current and previous employees as well as company records The Wall Street Journal saw in January. Executives believe it is crucial to distribute the data supposedly protected by Project Texas to ByteDance because it controls TikTok’s algorithm, individuals with knowledge of the project’s unit told the WSJ.

TikTok and ByteDance did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s response for comment.





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